Storchi – Outside Review

GenreProgressive Metal/Fusion
Release Date10 October 2019
Record LabelDutch Music Works

I don’t know what’s in the water over there, but Israel has pumped out some seriously good prog albums this year. The unforgettable Lotus Graveyard by Tillian is just one example, and I still listen to that record on a regular basis. The latest addition to this effort is the debut album of Storchi, entitled Outside. It brings an interesting combination of prog metal, fusion, and club jazz, finished off with a deep-rooted Middle Eastern feel. If you want to listen to something with its very own distinct sound, look no further.

Aside from the raw skill its musicians display (more on that in a minute), Storchi’s best quality is its blatant uniqueness. While, at times, Outside beckons to a sound similar to Mahavishnu Orchestra and 70s/80s fusion in general, the sound it ends up with can’t be compared too closely to these because it is simply very individual. The music is driven by the flute, courtesy of Danielle Sassi, which carries all of the melodies over top of the guitars, bass, and drums, which constantly transition between intense metal riffage and light grooves.

There’s a good ratio of metal to jazz here, with most of the songs leaning more one way than the other. For example, ‘Surroundings’, ‘Hidden Truth’, and ‘Lights Out’ are far more metal, whereas ‘Paracosm’ (after the first third of the song, anyway) and ‘Midnight’ are almost entirely ethnic jazz tunes. It becomes evident in the album’s first minutes that Outside will be a dynamic experience, but that’s a bit of an understatement.

And now we get to the musicians themselves who, strikingly, are all teenagers, which blows the shit out of my mind because I can’t play anything half as good as these guys. The guitarwork is great, with some notable soloing in ‘Paracosm’ and ‘Hidden Truth’, and the bassplaying follows in like fashion. The flute, of course, is excellent throughout the album’s entirety, but my favourite part of Outside is that fucking drumming. Noam Arbel proves himself to be quite the beast behind the kit, and he bangs the shit out of the highs and patters away on the lows with tasteful precision. Right off the get go I was impressed with this guy, but on the fifth track, ‘Midnight’, I was fucking blown away. Seriously. The five-minute drum solo constantly reminded me of drummers like Joe Morello and (to a lesser extent) Buddy Rich. Damn. Not too bad, if you ask me.

There are also a handful of guest musicians lending support on piano and string instruments, but the core of Outside‘s energy comes from its main quartet. While a couple of the arrangements could do with some trimming and touching up, this album is an all-around blast and I’m damn excited to listen to what Storchi lays down next.

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Desert – Fortune Favors The Brave Review

GenreHeavy/Power Metal
Release Date30 July 2019
Record LabelIndependent

Have you had too much of the hundred light, fluffy, symphonic power metal albums that have come out in the last month and a half? Well then, you’re in luck, because Desert have thundered in with their third album of colossal, aggressive, badass war metal. Despite the historical content that’s akin to the likes of Sabaton, Fortune Favors the Brave offers a completely different delivery; Desert’s storytelling relies more on crafting a dark atmosphere than bellowing out catchy, victorious anthems (that isn’t to say there aren’t some seriously epic choruses). Although, like Sabaton, the rhythm section carries a relentless, blood-boiling boom, so you can expect a different but paralleled experience between the two.

Behind the pounding music are bandmates that are just as battle-hardened. The rhythm section, complete with absolutely killer drumming, is super tight and keeps the excitement going, rarely setting into a single feel. There are also tasteful keyboard parts integrated throughout, but they’re used sparingly to allow the music to retain a raw, sharp edge. For an album like this, I was also surprised to hear such a beefy bass sound and clear basslines (especially evident in ‘Operation Thunderbolt’) because power metal bands are notoriously guilty of stifling their bassists behind the rhythm guitar. Additionally, vocalist Alexei Raymar deserves special mention. His gritty voice, which is reminiscent of Iron Savior’s Piet Sielck, leads every melody to glory.

The highlight on this album, however, is the guitarwork. Sergei Metalheart and Alex Zvulun prove their worth as mighty axemen with massive riffs and ripping solos (like that sick fucking shredder in ‘We Were Soldiers’), as well as unleash other techniques, like doomy black metal tremolo. There are also times, such as in ‘My Black Flag’, where there are a couple riffs stacked on top of eachother, which provides the music with a higher level of depth without becoming chaotic.

Now, I know I’ve put a lot of focus at how gung-ho this album is (because that’s pretty much the focus of the album) but there’s actually a fairly wide expanse of dynamism. For example, you have songs like ‘Hajduk’s Revenge’ and ‘I Gave You A Kingdom’ that are basted in Middle Eastern influence and venture through a couple different grooves, and then there’s ‘We Were Soldiers’, which is slightly more pulled back and offers a more reflective, melancholic early 90s metal feel. Each song explores a couple different feels with a few well-placed light sections that give the surrounding vigour an amplified impact.

If Fortune Favors the Brave doesn’t make you want to storm the nearest battlefield, that’s your own fault and you should probably see your doctor about receiving testosterone therapy. Seriously, you’ll hear “war metal” thrown around here and there these days, but Desert are the real fucking deal, and their metal is as heavy as a warrior’s heart.

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Track 02: Orden Ogany
Fortune Favors: Some tremolo guitar.

Desert Make New Album Announcement

Hailing from Israel, power metal warriors Desert have announced their third album. Fortune Favors the Brave will be available on 30 July.

It’s been four years since Desert released their last album. While no single for Fortune Favors the Brave has been released yet, the band have made the following statement as to what to expect:
“Fortune Favors the Brave is 50 minutes of pure War Metal, with adrenalin-fueled riffs, nasty distorted keyboards, and fist-raising, sing-along choruses. Inspired by heroic deeds of war, the songs are the perfect soundtrack forĀ battle!
Still, the album is dynamic, with atmosphere-building moments, just like silence builds tension before the storm…

01. Fix Bayonets!
02. Sons Of War
03. Operation Thunderbolt
04. Fortune Favors The Brave
05. My Black Flag
06. Hajduk’s Revenge
07. I Gave You A Kingdom
08. We Were Soldiers
09. Blood On The Sand
10. Symbol To Believe

Go like Desert on Facebook to stay in the loop!

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Tillian – Lotus Graveyard Review

GenreProgressive Rock/Metal
Release Date20 Apr 2019
Record LabelIndependent

I’ve listened to a lot of great progressive metal this month (well, I think prog rock would be more accurate for this, but it fits just fine into both genres), but Tillian’s dramatic, dynamic debut album, Lotus Graveyard, is a god damn piece of work. There were a couple times when I thought I had these guys figured out, but then I’d be blindsided by some wacky vocal fill or fucked up riff that threw me back into ignorance. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not; one of the best aspects of great music is the ability to keep you in the dark and continuously open your eyes to something wonderfully imaginative. That’s basically the entire point of prog, isn’t it?

Even though they’re relatively new on the scene, Tillian have proven that they’re a force to be reckoned. Their instrumentation ranges from heavily distorted guitars and pounding drums to soft acoustic piano and cello parts, all supported by various backing keyboards. On top of that, the songwriting is crazy good. Throughout Lotus Graveyard’s expansive landscape, there are soft songs like ‘Touched’ and ‘Earth Walker’, that pack powerful emotion despite their tenderness, and heavier metal in tracks such as ‘Love or Heaven’. Many of the songs also have a prominent Eastern influence, with ‘Moonlight Dancer’ being the most obvious example.

While all of the parts and players are virtually flawless, I do have a few favourites to pick with Lotus Graveyard. My top-favourite thing within the record is Leah Marcu’s insanely versatile voice. She’s got it all: beauty, power, rampant vibrato, agility, dynamics. The command she has over her voice is on par with the command Jackie Chan has over his body and it’s just fucking ridiculous. My other favourite piece of the album is ‘Black Holes’, which combines all of the album’s elements (not to mention the sick drumming) into one killer track that’s all over the place in the best of ways.

It’s near fucking impossible to find any issues with this album. The only thing that comes close to being a “problem” is that many sections of the album, especially Marcu’s vocal style, sound strikingly similar to Muse. This is almost distractingly apparent in ‘Frozen Sun’ and ‘Monster’, which sound like they could have been taken straight from the album Showbiz. Honestly, though, this isn’t an issue because it’s not derivation as much as it is using a couple melodies and scales that they also happened to have used.

This fresh, skilled septet has begun with such a phenomenal album that it’s pretty tough to see how they could ever top it. Fans of technical prog that’s fluid to the core will get a lot out of this record.

Tillian – Black Holes

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